Cinema and Nature on the Menu in Estonia



Posted on 08 December 2008  | 
Habitat for the thousands of waterfowl which use Vainameri as a stop-off point on their annual migrations.
© Toomas KokovkinEnlarge
Festival-goers on the Estonian island of Hiiumaa were offered an interesting main course on the 6th December: a nature-friendly cookery masterclass with one of the country’s top chefs. Film enthusiasts visiting the 12th annual Pimedate Ööde Filmfestival in Kardla were shown how to prepare gourmet dinners made with the finest beef, grown on the island’s abundant grasslands, in harmony with nature. The combination of quality art, quality cuisine, and a quality environment proved quite compelling for the many visitors who flocked to the island.

The event, organised by Lia Rosenberg of Arhipelaag, a local NGO and partner of WWF’s One Europe More Nature project, was highly successful in bringing awareness of the values of semi-natural coastal grasslands to a new audience. „They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” joked one film-goer, „well if the beef tastes this good, those grasslands will have a whole new group of supporters after tonight”.

Started 10 years ago by Arhipelaag and WWF Sweden, to restore and conserve the valuable grasslands whilst at the same time providing income opportunities for local people, the Vainameri project now counts more than 2,000 cows and 20,000 hectares of grassland. Since 2003 the project has been a part of WWF’s One Europe More Nature programme, which aims to show that what’s good for nature can also be good for business, and vice versa. „That’s a lot of cows, and a lot of nature, including habitat for the many thousands of waterfowl which use Vainameri as a stop-off point on their annual migrations” commented Charlie Avis, the OEMN Project Leader. And in time, a lot of beef too.

Hence the need to educate current and future consumers about the higher quality, better tasting, and healthier meat obtained from cattle grazed on wet meadows. Summer-time tourism is one market, and the project works with eco-tourism service providers and travel agencies to spread the word. But in time most meat will be consumed on the Estonian mainland. „You buy a kilo of great-tasting meat and you get a hectare of nature thrown in for free!” says Rosenberg. That’s a message which increasing numbers of domestic and foreign tourists have understood for some time now, and after the success of last night’s event, it appears that the Estonian film community is ready for second helpings of the special Vainameri beef as well.


WWF’s One Europe More Nature (OEMN) project uses an innovative approach to forge unusual partnerships so that business and nature can co-exist. Its mechanisms lead to win-win solutions for all, allowing Europe’s rural workers to generate income from the countryside while protecting nature. OEMN, tested at many pilot rural locations throughout Europe, is now mainstreaming conservation into everyday European business life.

For more information on OEMN contact Charlie Avis at Charlie.avis@wwf.hu and for more information on Vainameri, contact Lia Rosenberg at lia@arhipelaag.ee or download the new OEMN Vainameri factsheet.
Habitat for the thousands of waterfowl which use Vainameri as a stop-off point on their annual migrations.
© Toomas Kokovkin Enlarge
The Vainameri project now counts more than 2,000 cows and 20,000 hectares of grassland.
© Toomas Kokovkin Enlarge

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